Study Notes

Luke 2:41-3:38

2:41-52 Amazing Answers from Jesus

Until a Jewish boy was 12 years old, his mother and father were responsible for him religiously. After that, he assumed responsibility for himself. So now, Jesus enters the temple of His own accord, and sits with the Rabbinical teachers. He asked them questions - questions which He answered, for they did not have the answers. These men who had devoted their lives to having all the answers. Men of great learning, study, and intelligence. But they were amazed by this 12 year old boy.

Today, despite great learning, study, and intelligence, there are questions which you cannot answer: "What should I do? Who should I believe? Which path should I take? How should I do this?" And you've searched and researched... looked at all of your options... tested all the waters. But you still don't have the answer. Where can you go to discover the answers to these questions? To Jesus Christ.

How can He tell you the answers? The same way He gave the Rabbinical teachers amazing answers. Let's look at it. There are two things we need to see:

1) First of all, Jesus was sitting in the midst of them. Jesus has told us:

Matt. 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."

After the two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection,

Luke 24:35-36 ...They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst.

But we will also see in chapter 4 that the people in the synagogue didn't want to hear His answers, so...

Luke 4:30 ...Passing through their midst, He went His way.

So, first of all, He must be in our midst. We need to be gathering together in His name. Praying to Him, reading His word. We need to be telling others about His resurrection. And we need to be wanting to hear what He has to say.

2) Secondly, notice that He was both listening to them, and asking them questions.

For many of us, our relationship with Jesus is like half a telephone - our phone has a mouthpiece with no earpiece. We talk and talk and talk and never seem to notice that He's not talking back. It's because we're not listening. Allow the Lord to speak to you through His Word and take time to allow Him to speak to your heart. The Rabbinical teachers got amazing answers when Jesus was both listening to them, and asking them questions.

3:1-2 The word comes in the wilderness

Now the last we heard of John after his dedication and circumcision was...

Luke 1:80 And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Now the word of the Lord comes to him while he is in the wilderness. The word of the Lord also came to Moses in the wilderness. Have you ever noticed that the word comes in the wilderness? It rarely comes to anyone while they're sitting pretty and comfortable in a palace. That is not to say that God cannot speak to those in palaces, but to say that those in palaces generally aren't listening for the word of the Lord. When we're comfortable, we don't care to listen. It is in the wilderness - the adversity, the storms of life, that we begin to cry out to the Lord and His word comes to us.

3:3-6 John preaches repentance

John went to the Jordan preaching repentance. We've discussed the meaning of repentance many times: it means to change your thinking, turn, and go the other way. This is always the first step towards salvation. And John wasn't the only one who preached repentance:

Matt. 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 6:12 And they went out and preached that {men} should repent.

We really do a disservice to people when leave "repentance from sin" out of the message of the gospel. Many people have come to Christ after hearing "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." But many of those people fall away after a time because they didn't understand that the work of Jesus was to pay a death penalty - our death penalty. In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked of a group of people who hear the message with great joy, but it is only a shallow penetration.

Matt. 13:20-21 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no {firm} root in himself, but is {only} temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away."

May we never be guilty of presenting only half of the gospel. Man must be convicted for his sin before he can receive salvation from the penalty of his sin.

3:7-9 Relying on relative's righteousness

Abraham was the man that the Bible says was righteous because of his faith. And the Jews were all descendants of this great man. The Jews told Jesus:

John 8:39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." (So) Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham."

Many people today are sorely deceived with the same reasoning as the Jews had. Relying on their relative's righteousness. Some are children who grew up going to church. And if they were asked, "Are you a Christian?", they would answer "Yes", because their parents are Christians. Others are churchgoers who, if they were asked, "Are you a Christian?", they would answer "Yes", because their spouses are Christians.

But having Christian parents or a Christian wife does not make you a Christian. If you're 11, 12, 13... Your Mom's Christianity is not going to get you into heaven. If your husband is a radical, on-fire believer, his Christianity is not going to get you into heaven. Once a person becomes old enough to be responsible for himself religiously, he must accept Jesus Christ in his own heart.

Are you relying on your relative's righteousness? John the Baptist said, "Don't begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father.'" Make sure that you're not doing the same thing. Make sure that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

3:10-20 Repentance - Sorrow and Fruit

John's message was repentance, and he preached it to everybody - from the man on the street to the man in the Tetrarch's Palace. People who preach repentance are never popular. It's not exactly the formula you use to win a popularity contest. When John rebuked Herod for his sin, Herod had him thrown in jail.

I often wonder, "What will you do to me when I preach repentance?" Because preaching repentance brings sorrow - and the book of Romans says that you'll do one of two things with that sorrow:

2Cor. 7:10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

John the Baptist said, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." And he gave them some examples:


He addressed our selfishness. We are all guilty of being selfish. Let us examine ourselves and consider where we practice selfishness. Paul wrote in Phillipians:

Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself...

Dishonesty at work

It is amazing how conformed we become to the world when we're at work or school. For 6 or 8 or 10 hours a day, we are surrounded by carnality, and in many different ways, we adopt the world's behavior and attitude. Producing fruit in keeping with repentance at work or school means being a good employee or student. Don't be dishonest, carnal, or lazy.

1Cor. 10:31 ...Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Tomorrow, before you get to work or school, say, "Lord, I dedicate today to you. I'm going to work today like you're my teacher. Like you're my boss."


Did you know that as lower-middle-class to middle-class American citizens, we still enjoy a higher standard of living than the majority of people in the world? Yet we never seem to be content. We need a better this. We need a larger that. We want it faster, newer, prettier. But 1Timothy puts it all in perspective:

1Tim. 6:6-10 ...Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith...

Dear saints, let us learn to be content, lest we remain trapped in the snare that we're in.

3:21-22 The Baptism of Jesus

The baptism of John was one of repentance - turning from your sin. The Bible tells us that Jesus never sinned.

2Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf

So why did Jesus have to be baptized? Our clue lies in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 3:

Matt. 3:14-15 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

There has been a controversy raging in the church for hundreds of years. "Does a believer have to be baptized to be saved?" On one side, there are people who say, "Absolutely, yes!" They quote Mark 16:

Mark 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

On the other side, there are the people who say that baptism is a work, and we are saved by faith, not by works. They quote the apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 1 when he said:

1Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel

I personally fall into the second category, that we are saved by our faith, not by our works. But I do believe that refusing to be baptized after becoming a believer is a sin, because Jesus commanded us to.

But after saying that, now I'm going to make a controversial statement: "I believe that for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism." That's right, for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism."

Fortunately for the thief on the cross, and the thousands of people who have had deathbed conversions, there has been a baptism. Jesus' baptism. He was baptized, not for His own sin, but for the sin of others. He was baptized by John to "fulfill all righteousness".

3:23-38 The genealogy of Jesus

Now this Genealogy featuring 76 men, and spanning 4,000 years gives many people the impression that it is an opportunity to skip ahead to chapter 4. Nothing could be further from the truth. As in every genealogy listed in the Bible, there are treasures just waiting to be discovered.

As we read the New Testament, we should notice that each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), presents a different side of Jesus. Matthew concentrates on Jesus as the Messiah - the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Mark focuses in on Jesus as the suffering servant. Luke keeps our attention on Jesus as a man. And John focuses in on the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And with each gospel, the genealogy listed highlights that particular side of Jesus. Matthew, wanting to focus in on the Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, traces His bloodline: The genealogy beginning with the father of the Jews, Abraham, and tracing down to His mother Mary.

Luke, wanting to focus in on Jesus as a man, traces the legal lineage of Jesus beginning with Joseph, and goes all the way back to Adam.

John, in presenting Jesus Christ as the Son of God, takes a different turn in the genealogy... Is there a genealogy in John? You bet! Do you know where it is? Right in the beginning:

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

The genealogy of the Son of God.

And of course Mark, in presenting Jesus as the suffering servant of all doesn't bother with a genealogy, because nobody cares about the pedigree of a servant.

Now those of us who have been following the Thursday night Genesis study have already discovered the most amazing treasure from this Genealogy. It is the gospel message: That man is sinful, and needed the Lord Himself to pay the death penalty for man's sin. As we look at the first ten men (beginning with Adam, and continuing to Noah), we see that the Hebrew meaning of their names spells out the gospel message. Let us begin in verse 36, as Luke is tracing backwards:

  • The name "Noah" means "Rest"

  • "Lamech" means "The Despairing"

  • "Methuselah" means "His Death Shall Bring"

  • "Enoch" means "Teaching"

  • "Jared" means "Shall Come Down"

  • "Mahalalel" means "The Blessed God"

  • "Cainan" means "Sorrow"

  • "Enosh" means "Mortal"

  • "Seth" means "Appointed"

  • "Adam" means "Man"

    As we take the meanings and apply them in order of their births, the genealogy actually forms a statement prophesying about the gospel of Jesus Christ: "Man appointed mortal sorrow. The Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring the despairing rest."

    In your Bible reading, don't skip the genealogies - you never know what you might be missing!